HANIÁ, as any of its residents will tell you, is spiritually the capital of Crete, even if the official title was passed back (in 1971) to Iráklion. For many, it is also by far the island's most attractive city, especially if you can catch it in spring, when the White Mountains' snowcapped peaks seem to hover above the roofs. Surrounding the small outer harbour is a wonderful jumble of half-derelict Venetian streets that survived the wartime bombardments, and it is here that life for the visitor is concentrated.
The port area is, as ever, the place to start, the oldest and the most interesting part of town. It's at its busiest and most attractive at night, when the lights from bars and restaurants reflect in the water and crowds of visitors and locals turn out to promenade. By day, things are quieter. Straight ahead from Platía Syndriváni (also known as Harbour Square) lies the curious domed shape of the Mosque of the Janissaries, built in 1645 (though heavily restored since) and the oldest Ottoman building on the island. It is occasionally open as a gallery, housing temporary exhibitions.]]>